Only Their Names Were Different - Part 2
Steve Rosner

This is the Part 2 of our two part adult fairy tale. Can you find the Biblical overtones and guess the point?

A short time later, Esseh arrived with the doctor, a portly man with a kind, weathered face. "Come. We must hurry!" he declared as he alighted from the wagon. "Time is of the essence!"
    He hastened into the house. "Ah, my friend, I see a little calamity has befallen your son. Let me take a look . . . Ah! Here we are; right above the ankle . . . The puncture marks of that insidious creature." The doctor proceeded to clean the wound, then produced a bottle from his bag. "This is an extract from the aloe vera plant. Mix one teaspoon in a cup of boiling water," he instructed, "and have the child drink it three times a day for three days. And if the Lord is willing . . . "
    "Is there anything else that can be done?" asked Nam.
    "Nay! Everything depends how much venom has already reached the brain. Just keep him cool. By tomorrow evening the fever should break . . . if we're in time."
   "Can he be moved? We are from the village of Nedesville."
    "I know. You are the shoemaker. Moving will cause no further harm provided he is transported."
    "You are welcome to my wagon," the ferryman offered. "At a time like this, it is better to be at home."
    With much thanks, Nam departed on the ferryman's wagon. Leba lay asleep on a straw mattress, the bottle at his side, as his father slowly retraced their path of earlier in the day.

    They arrived home shortly before midnight and the sound of hooves brought Namow running out.
    "My Leba," she cried, "something's happened to my Leba."
    The shoemaker described the events of the last eighteen hours as they lifted Leba from the wagon and carried him to his bed. Niac was awake and ran to embrace his father.
    "Papa, will my brother be all right?" he asked anxiously.
    "He is in the hands of the Lord, my son. And you? Are you feeling well?"
    "Yes, Papa. But in the late afternoon, I felt a sharp pain in my foot."
    I know," said Nam, looking at his son closely. "But you seem to be all right, thank goodness. Now we must all get some sleep . . . "

    Of course, no one slept well that night. They tossed and turned, worrying about Leba. And when the sun began rising in the east, Namow awoke and went to his room. But Leba just lay there with eyes closed, his fever unabated.
    From time to time during the day, he'd open his eyes and look at his family keeping vigil at his bedside. But only when he looked at Niac would there be the slightest sign of recognition. And three times a day he was given tea with the aloe vera extract, but the fever did not break. Rather, it seemed to be getting worse. And gloom descended on the family for the first time . . .
    And in the morning of the third day, when Leba seemed to be at his weakest, he opened his eyes and for a moment all became clear. He reached out for his father and in a whisper asked, "Papa, am I going to die?"
    But this time the shoemaker said nothing.

    Later that morning, Nam walked down the narrow path behind the house into the woods. Weary and with a heavy heart, he sat under an old oak tree and began to weep. "What am I to do!" he cried. "What am I to do?"
    Suddenly, the poor old man he had befriended years earlier appeared before him. And he was still wearing the shoes Nam had given him.
    "Because you are a man of good character," he began, "and aided me in my time of need, I have come to help you."
    "I don't understand," said the poor shoemaker. "Who are you? Where did you come from?"
    "That's unimportant," declared the old man. "But your son is in grave danger, for the snake that bit him was no less than Satan himself. He is now gaining control over his body."
    "Lord, help me!" cried Nam. "Will he die?"
    "Eventually, yes. But there's no telling when. Satan will use him as he sees fit and then discard him for some other suitable host. The fact that your child is still ill means the devil has not yet gained total control. His goodness and purity stand him well and he is fighting courageously and mightily against his ruthless opponent. But, ultimately, he must succumb."
    "What will happen then?"
    "In spirit, he will no longer be recognizable. He will behave strangely, devilishly, and evil will follow his footsteps. At some point, however, the devil will grow tired of his body and leave for another unsuspecting soul. Then your son will die. So you must act quickly--before Satan gains control. Otherwise it will be too late."
    "Please!" the maker of shoes appealed. "What must I do?"
    "Take his brother who, except in name, is exactly alike--and as pure--and take the eastern path until you come to a small stream on whose opposite side lies an apple orchard. One tree will stand out among the others. You will know it. On its very top grows an apple the likes of which no man has seen: perfectly formed, without blemish, and with a taste as pure as the newborn babe. Your son must climb the tree and remove it, intact, careful lest he mar it. The tree will be difficult to scale and there will be some risk to the lad. But if you are successful, have the ill child take a bite, and surely Satan will flee. Even he cannot oppose the union of purity in animal and vegetable. But hurry now and God be with you."
    Nam ran home as fast as his legs could carry him. Leba was asleep, but it was one of restlessness as if the end of a great struggle was about to take place.
    "Come Niac, we must hurry!" his father exclaimed, and they ran down the eastern path together. After several miles, they crossed a small, shallow stream into an apple orchard of rare beauty. And as the old man foretold, the center tree stood out in height and fullness. Nam explained to his son what was required and the risk involved but Niac's reply was quite clear.
    "I would gladly give up my own life to save that of my brother, Leba."
    He began climbing, higher and higher, more concerned with not harming the tree than for his own safety. And when he reached the top, his eyes gazed on a most wonderful sight: a fruit so perfect, so radiant, that he was startled and barely managed to keep from falling. Then, carefully, he cut the apple from its stem and placed it into a sheepskin pouch . . .
    When they returned home, they found Leba's agitation had increased several-fold. His eyes remained closed but he was thrashing about on his bed and unintelligent sounds spouted from his lips.
    "Hurry, before it's too late!" shouted the shoemaker.
    Niac quickly removed the apple and brought it to his brother's lips. An invisible hand seemed to pry open Leba's mouth causing him to bite down .

    Instantly, all activity ceased, and for a moment, it appeared he had expired. But then he opened his eyes and his lips formed the sounds of "Papa, Mama, Niac." Then he closed them and slept, a quiet restful sleep.
    And from that day on, mankind abided in peace and Leba and his family lived happily ever after.


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Elihu then spoke up and said: "Hear my words...Let us choose judgment for ourselves; let us decide what is good. For Job has said, 'I was righteous and God has taken away my justice! I maintain my judgment was undeserved; my wound was grave without guilt.'
 Therefore, listen to me. To do evil is sacreligious to God, and iniquity to the Almighty! Rather He repays the deeds of man according to his conduct. Surely God will not act wickedly and the Almighty will not pervert justice."

(Job 34:1-15)

Articles in Steve's Page are designed to get one to think critically; to look beyond the superficial and the obvious. Why not spend 20-30 minutes or so, with a loved one if possible, examining the idea in question and discussing possibilities and alternatives. See whether you agree with the author. (There are no right answers, just opinions.) Readers who feel columns would be of value to others are free to copy it and/or send it on.

©2012 Steve Rosner
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